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December 2014 Newsletter December 2014 Gets in the Holiday Spirit
One of the Saks Fifth Avenue windows this holiday season
One of the Saks Fifth Avenue windows this holiday season

Happy December, Kidsreaders!

Thanksgiving is behind us (meaning you have to wait a whole year before more stuffing and green bean casserole…can you handle it?) but with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa just around the corner, the holiday season is really just beginning.

In New York City this is pretty obvious --- the legendary Saks Fifth Avenue window display is finally up, the Rockefeller Center tree is lit above the skating rink, holiday markets have transformed many parks into what look like tiny tent villages and glittering lights make the fact that it gets dark at 4:45pm just a little more bearable.

This festive time of year got us thinking --- what if we celebrated a holiday dedicated to books with the same kind of energy? What about literature would it be honoring, exactly, and what would we do to make it the most anticipated day of the year? I asked our Teen Board members --- a group of teens from around the country that write reviews and participate in features on our teen site, --- for some ideas. Here’s what a few of them came up with:

My holiday would be called Annual Detective Day, as influenced by the Sherlock Holmes books. On this day, everyone would investigate a problem in their community and solve it to their best of ability. At the end of the day, family and friends would gather at each other's homes and discuss the problems they faced and how they overcame them. --- Rachel D.

If I could invent a book-themed holiday, it would be National Reading Day. Everyone would have the day off of work and school to read their favorite books or watch movies that were based on their favorite books. Not only would it to be a very relaxing day, it would also be a great way to celebrate books and reading. --- Cheyenne C.

If I could invent a book-themed holiday, I'd establish National Quotable Dialogue Day. This (optional) holiday would obligate participants to speak in nothing but literary quotes for a full 24 hours. Though I'd encourage my fellow book-nerds to use as many iconic quotes as possible, more obscure snippets of dialogue would also be permitted, so long as the speaker could cite the book's title and author. National Quotable Dialogue Day would feature debates, stand-up comedy, poetry slams and even musicals, though the performers' vocabulary would be limited to --- you guessed it --- literary quotes. While NQDD would doubtlessly result in some hilarious, or awkward, or hilariously awkward conversations, this holiday would hopefully help participants notice the similarities between their own lives and those of beloved (or perhaps not-so-beloved) book characters. Because once readers recognize these similarities, they might gain a new understanding of who they are and how they relate to the world around them --- and then use that understanding to change things for the better. --- Alison S.

I'd invent Magical Realism Day, which would be a different holiday than Fantasy Day. It would still be filled with magic but with more subtle touches. Instead of avid readers dressing up as elves or wizards, they would dress up very much like themselves --- with a hint of magic. For example, a girl could have butterflies in her hair the whole day. Magical Realism is the extraordinary grounded in the ordinary. --- Cassandra H.

If I could invent a book-themed holiday, I would create New Novel November. Throughout the whole month of November everyone will explore new novels, genres, authors, publishers, reading formats and more! After a whole month of exploring unique and diverse novels, readers will enter December, the new year, and the rest of their lives with a new-found love for books of all shapes and sizes, plots and characters and much, much more. Perhaps on Thanksgiving, readers can exchange their favorite novels with people who typically read from different genres. This whole month is in an effort to open up horizons far and wide for all readers, and perhaps even find a new passion --- whether it be ebooks, up-and-coming author NoViolet Bulawayo, sci-fi rom-coms or the publisher Delacorte Press. The possibilities are endless! --- Sara J.

If I could create a book themed-holiday, I would create Wizarding Day, based off of the Harry Potter series. This would be a holiday to celebrate the wizarding world. I would celebrate this day with magic, fun and friends, and would dress in my most wizardly outfit and celebrate! --- Aspen R.

My book-themed holiday would be National Villain Day. Each year on this day, the strongest and most passionate villains would be celebrated. For example, I would dress up like Voldemort and sing songs about his creativity and excitement. I would host a huge "death eaters"-themed feast for all of my friends and we would toast to the defeat of Harry Potter. The antagonists of novels do not get appreciated enough, so this day would be a celebration of them.--- Aliza M.

So many good choices! If you could add a bookish celebration to the December holiday repertoire, what would it be, and how would you make it a day to remember? Let me know at! And when you're done, start planning how you're going to celebrate a new holiday that is celebrating its very first year --- National Readathon Day on January 24th! The goal of this day is to have an many people as possible read between noon and 4pm, and many bookstores and libraries are hosting related events. Be sure to check out your local book-related venues and participate!

So happy holidays (both real and imagined), enjoy our last newsletter of 2014, and talk to you in the New Year!

--- Shara Zaval (


Kidsreads Reviewers Pick Their Favorite Books of 2014!
There's no better way to start an argument with self-proclaimed book nerds than to ask "what is the best children's book of 2014?" We decided to get our lovely reviewers and Teen Board members involved in the debate by asking them to tell us a few of their favorites. See here for their picks, and a few fun quotes. Do you agree with their choices?
Click here to read the special feature!

For Parents and Grandparents --- Take This Survey About Reading with Your Kids!

Do you have children or grandchildren you read with, or who read on their own? If so, we’d like to know more about what’s important to you, and how you encourage them to love reading as much as you do. Let us know by taking the Brightly Reader Survey here. You’ll also have the chance to enter to win a copy of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, the charming children's book written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Plus, sign up to be a charter member of Brightly, a community of parents and grandparents, connected by their love of reading and their dedication to inspiring that passion in their children.

Click here to take the survey!

Holiday Books Picture Book Roundup
Whether you are looking for stocking stuffers or just some new books to curl up with and read on a cold, snowy day, this is the list for you. Here is a list of holiday books that we are sure will warm the hearts of readers both young and old.
Click here to read our Holiday Picture Book Roundup!

Quirky Celebrations --- December: Write a Friend Month

What's the best way to celebrate Write a Friend month? Well, one way would be to pen letters to your pals near and far (of course). But since we're a book website, we decided to get a bit more literary and ask some authors to write imaginary letters to their characters. Read below for entries from Kirkpatrick Hill (BO AT IDITAROD CREEK), Catherine Jinks (HOW TO CATCH A BOGLE), Sharon Lovejoy (RUNNING OUT OF NIGHT) and Jane Yolen (A PLAGUE OF UNICORNS)

Click here to read the full special feature!

December's New Picture Books Roundup

Our December roundup includes I LOVE DOGS! by Sue Stainton and New Yorker cartoonist Bob Staake, which celebrates canines of all shapes and sizes; the vibrantly illustrated VIOLENT AND VICTOR WRITE THE BEST-EVER BOOKWORM BOOK by Alice Kuipers and Bethanie Murguia, where a pair of twins are determined to write the best book in the whole world; and FIRST SNOW by Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Peter McCarty, which features loving animal characters guiding Pedro through his first snow angel, sled ride and snowball fight!

Click here to see December's New Picture Books roundup!

December’s Cool & New Books Roundup

In December’s Cool & New roundup, we have A PLAGUE OF UNICORNS by Jane Yolen, where the monks at Cranford Abbey must hatch a plan to stop the unicorns from eating all of their golden apples; THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES VOLUME 1: Young Readers Edition, an adaptation of Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s groundbreaking book about some little known (and not-so-positive) events in America’s past; and HOUSE OF ROBOTS: My Brother, The Robot by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, the first book in a new illustrated series about an extraordinary robot in an ordinary fifth grade class.

Click here to see December's Cool & New Books roundup!

December's New in Paperback Roundup

The December paperbacks this month are HOW TO CATCH A BOGLE by Catherine Jinks, where 10-year-old Birdie assists Alfred the Bolger, a renowned monster-catcher in Victorian England; and THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FOREST by Charles de Lint, where Lillian Kindred is transformed into a kitten and must go on a perilous adventure through untamed lands to make things right.

Click here to visit our December New in Paperback feature!

"Best Of" 2014 Lists
This is the time of year when “Best Of” lists are everywhere. Although we at don’t have a “Best Of” list of our own, we’ve compiled a number of them for you here. See which of your top picks appear on these lists and which titles you feel should've been included but weren't. Perhaps you’ll even find some books to add to your reading list as we head into the new year!

New York Times
Goodreads: Middle Grade | Picture
School Library Journal: Middle Grade | Picture | Nonfiction
Publishers Weekly: Middle Grade | Picture
National Public Radio
Huffington Post
Click here to read the special feature!

Books on Screen

Looking to watch something musical this December? Check out the new modern-day version of Annie. Featuring some of your favorite songs from the classic musical, updated for a modern retelling, this looks like it's going to be a lot of fun! With a star-studded cast and a great soundtrack, you’ll definitely be singing along to “It’s The Hard Knock Life” and "Tomorrow!"

So try not to dance in the aisles when you go see December's books on screen!


Click here to read Books on Screen!

New Reviews!

NEW! KID PRESIDENTS: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents written by David Stabler, illustrated by Doogie Horner (Youth Nonfiction)

The kids who grew up to be president were like a lot of other children. Some struggled with schoolwork and got into fights; others pranked their teachers and infuriated their parents. Kid Presidents features 20 captivating true stories from the childhoods of American presidents, complete with lively text and more than 200 cartoon illustrations. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

NEW! THE US CONGRESS FOR KIDS: Over 200 Years of Lawmaking, Deal-Breaking, and Compromising, with 21 Activities by Ronald A. Reis (Youth Historical Nonfiction)

Providing a historical perspective on all that is going on today, US CONGRESS FOR KIDS examines the major milestones in congressional history, including the abolition of slavery, extending the vote to African Americans and to women and investigating misconduct in both government and private institutions. Educational, hands-on activities that illuminate the workings of the U.S. Congress include making a House ceremonial mace, creating congressional money, making a capitol dome and designing a Congressional Medal of Honor. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! THOMAS PAINE: Crusader for Liberty: How One Man's Ideas Helped Form a New Nation by Albert Marrin (Nonfiction)

Uneducated as a boy, Thomas Paine grew up to become one of the most influential writers of the 18th century. He brought the world Common Sense, Rights of Man and The Age of Reason --- simply written, verbal battles against political, civil and religious ignorance. Reviewed by Christine Irvin.

NEW! THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, Volume 1: Young Readers Edition written by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (Youth Historical Nonfiction)

This is not the kind of history taught in schools or normally presented on television or in popular movies. This riveting young readers’ edition challenges prevailing orthodoxies to reveal the dark reality about the rise and fall of the American empire for curious, budding historians who are hungry for the truth. Based on the latest archival findings and recently declassified information, this book will come as a surprise to the vast majority of students and their teachers. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! GUTS & GLORY: The American Civil War by Ben Thompson (Youth Historical Nonfiction)

From courageous cavalry rides deep into enemy territory to harrowing covert missions undertaken by spies and soldiers, the events of the American Civil War were filled with daring figures and amazing feats. This exhilarating overview covers the biggest battles as well as captivating lesser-known moments to entertain kids with unbelievable (and totally true) tales of one of America's most fascinating conflicts. Reviewed by Aimee Rogers.

NEW! THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (Young Adult Fantasy)

To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it's her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere --- but they aren't the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can't beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear. Reviewed by Rebecca Czochor.

NEW GUILTY? Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice by Teri Kanefield (Young Adult Nonfiction)

When some people kill, they are jailed or even executed. When others do, they are celebrated as heroes. Though this example is extreme, it’s just one of many that author and lawyer Teri Kanefield explores in depth. From an examination of what constitutes a crime to how citizens have reacted when they feel laws aren’t fair, this book will challenge young readers’ thinking about law, order, crime and punishment while giving them specific legal cases to ponder along the way. Reviewed by Anita Lock.

NEW! THE AGE OF AMY: Channel '63 by Bruce Edwards (Young Adult Fiction)

What if you could tune your TV to the year 1963, and watch --- live? A new theme park attraction allows visitors to not only observe, but talk with the people of that turbulent decade. For 16-year-old Amy, it's the perfect escape from her own time --- an era she doesn't seem to fit in with. Things get complicated, however, when Amy falls for a '60s teenage boy on the bewitching TV screen. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.


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